It was police gunfire that killed a California woman during a bank robbery last month, Stockton, California, Police Chief Eric Jones said Monday.
Preliminary ballistics reports show the bullets that killed Misty Jean Holt-Singh, 42, on July 16 were fired from police weapons. The initial incident report indicates she was shot about 10 times, Jones said.
Holt-Singh was killed in the violent aftermath of a July robbery at a Stockton branch of Bank of the West. At approximately 2 p.m., three men walked into the branch and robbed the vault at gunpoint.
They then took three female hostages, including the bank manager, and climbed into the manager’s SUV to make their escape. An hour-long car chase and gun battle ensued, according to the Los Angeles Times.
During the chase, two hostages were wounded and ejected from the car. Both survived.
After police shot out the SUV’s tires, the suspects engaged police in a prolonged gun battle in which Holt-Singh was used as a human shield by one of the suspects. That suspect was the only one to survive the gunfight.
Jones called the use of Holt-Singh as a shield a “clear cowardice act.”
“The assailants were intent on killing people, definitely police officers, on that day,” he said. “Whether to stop them or not was not an option. They had to be stopped.”
Los Angeles attorney Greg Bentley, a friend of the victim’s family, has requested that authorities provide information about what happened the day Holt-Singh was killed, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Bentley released a statement Monday in response to Jones’ press conference.
“The Singh family was saddened to receive the ballistic information concerning Misty’s death,” the statement said. “The manner in which Misty’s life was taken raises serious questions and concerns.
“The family is hopeful, however, that the promised information, policies and procedures concerning the events of July 16 will be provided so that a fair, complete and transparent investigation can take place,” Bentley added.
Jones said there would be an external review of his officers’ actions during the car chase and gun battle, but also pointed out that the extremely violent incident was far from ordinary.
“To say the dynamics here were unique is an understatement,” Jones said, adding that the car chase was “a rolling, active shooter incident constantly putting the public and officers in danger.
“We are looking at everything from A to Z, and we will be looking at all actions throughout the event,” Jones said. “They were heavily armed with tons of ammunition, and the actions they took from points A to Z never really made sense.”
The preliminary reports of the incident indicate over 400 shots were fired between the suspects and police.
The two slain suspects were identified as Gilbert Renteria Jr., 30, and Alex Gregory Martinez, 27. The surviving suspect, Jaime Ramos, 19, is in custody and charged with 35 felony counts, including murder and attempted murder.
Police are still searching for a fourth suspect they believe dropped the trio off at the bank.
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